Tag Archives: community editors

3 lessons in community #5: Laura Gluhanich of Ning

In the latest in my series of interviews with the people who deal with online communities as part of their job, I speak to Ning‘s Laura Gluhanich. Laura started at Ning in 2007 as a Community Advocate.  Prior to that, she spent 4 years in restaurant management in her native Michigan.  As acting Manager of Support at Ning, she manages the front line of community feedback regarding the platform.  She spends her time at http://help.ning.com, http://blog.ning.com, and http://twitter.com/lauragatning.

Here are the 3 things she’s learned about community management:

1. Know and treat your community as individuals

Each person on our platform has created a network or belongs to one. Each member of my team is familiar with hundreds of networks and their Network Creators. This familiarity leads to better support because we know a fan network for a band is different from one that is used to collaborate in the classroom, and can respond to their needs better with that knowledge.

2. Be flexible

Community guidelines are there for a reason, and consistency is key to providing a great environment for people to engage. That said, there will always be unique cases where you will need to be creative with a solution that benefits all involved.

3. Show your humanity

The larger your community gets, the less you are looked at and treated as a real person. It is important to provide context and explanation for changes and decisions, and to admit mistakes to your community. Your communications and online presence should reflect your personality.

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Lessons in community from community editors #4: Tom Whitwell

I’ve been speaking to news organisations’ community editors on the lessons they’ve learned from their time in the job. Today, The Times’s Tom Whitwell:

1. Trust the readers

Self-policing often works. I had a case where a sports writer was annoyed by a commenter who said he’d got his facts wrong. He wanted us to take the comment down, but by the time we got to the page, there were 3-4 other commenters backing up the writer. On the whole, we have very intelligent readers who leave great comments.

2. Interaction is incredibly subtle and variable

Similar articles with similar traffic can get very different responses – something in the wording of one will inspire hundreds of comments, but not the other.

Some people are hesitant about leaving a comment, but they might be very willing to vote in a poll, or fill in a survey. There are an infinite number of ways that websites can get readers more engaged.

Lessons in community from community editors #3: Andrew Rogers, RBI

After the first two of my interviews with news organisations’ community editors , Reed Business Information’s Andrew Rogers blogged his own ‘3 lessons‘ he’s learned from his time as Head of User Content Development. Reproduced by kind permission, here it is in full:

1. A community is only really a community if it builds (or builds on) genuine relationships between the members.

Otherwise it is merely interactivity. A corollary of this is that an online community needs to be focused around a common interest, need or passion (or simply “something in common”)

2. The most important tool for dealing with problems is your Terms of Use / Ts&Cs.

If you are to deal effectively with problems of misbehaviour you need to be able to point to the rule which says the user can’t do that.

You will still be accused of suppressing free speech/being a Nazi of course, but at least you can justify your actions in removing posts, banning users etc.

Spend a lot of time on developing the rules and lay them out in simple language

3. Find ways to reward the best or most prolific contributors

This might be through a reputation system, increased rights, or simply highlighting their contributions in some way.

Many users are driven to upload their photographs to the Farmers Weekly website in the hope that they will make it into the magazine.

It’s also true, of course, that one should aim to reward all contributors by ensuring that someone pays attention to them.

Lessons in community from community editors #2: Mark Fothergill, The Guardian

I’ve been speaking to news organisations’ community editors on the lessons they’ve learned from their time in the job. In the 2nd of the series, the Guardian’s Mark Fothergill:

1. Getting the tools right for the job are ultra-important, both front end and back end:

Too many sites knock together something that ‘will do’ and it always comes back to haunt.

An oft-made mistake is spending lots of time on front end, user-facing functionality and spending no time thinking about how to moderate it.

Additionally, once users have tools/functionality, good or bad, they grow accustomed to them and when you then attempt to ‘improve’ the offering at a later date, they inevitably don’t like it and you can lose a sizeable portion of your community.

2. Define your role (and more specifically, the role of the moderation team):

If it’s not clear to other departments, particularly editorial, that the final decision on the moderation of any piece of user generated content lies with you, it can cause numerous problems. Other departments should have a say in procedures and should have a higher priority when it comes to 50/50 decisions, but they should respect the decisions of the moderation team, that are based on both experience and policy.

This is the only way to maintain consistency across your offering. Users won’t know if they’re coming or going if it appears there are a number of different moderation policies across a site that they see as being one entity.

Slight difffences between moderation on, say, Sport and Politics are to be expected, but not wholesale differences, especially when users are only asked to follow one set of community standards.

3. Deal with user complaints quickly:

If you’re not on top of user complaints within a reasonable time-frame, you’re fostering problems and problem areas. Dealing with a piece of content calling someone a “wanker” within 15 minutes, for instance, can prevent a flame war from ever getting off the ground. Deal with the same complaint after 2 hours and you’re likely to be mopping up for another hours afterwards.

Quick response times help to protect yourselves from a legal standpoint and, at the same time, help to protect the users who are much happier in the knowledge that a piece of reported content, that they deem to be offensive or inappropriate, has been acted upon swiftly. Who wants a system where you report someone telling you to “F off” and, on a regular basis, the comment is still there 8 hours later?

Lessons in community from community editors: #1 Shane Richmond

I’ve been speaking to news organisations’ community editors on the lessons they’ve learned from their time in the job. In the first of a sure to be irregular series, the Telegraph’s Shane Richmond:

1. The strongest community is one that belongs to its members Continue reading